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TEHRAN, Iran — Authorities put down 14 lions at the Tehran zoo that had been diagnosed with an infectious bacterial disease that could affect visitors, a local newspaper reported on Monday.
The state-own Jam-e Jam daily reported that the lions were suffering from glanders, a bacterial disease found in horses, donkeys, mules as well as other domesticated animals. It can spread from infected animals to humans. The paper did not say when the lions killed.
Houman Moloukpour, a veterinarian, told the newspapers that the lions most likely contracted the disease because of mismanagement at the zoo.
Moloukpour said over the past two month three lions have died in the zoo after they contracted by glanders, which he said cannot be treated among domesticated animals but wild ones do respond to treatment.
What is glanders?
Glanders is an infectious disease that is caused by the bacterium Burkholderia mallei. Glanders is primarily a disease affecting horses, but it also affects donkeys and mules and can be naturally contracted by other mammals such as goats, dogs, and cats. No naturally acquired cases of this disease have occurred in the U.S. in over 60 years. Sporadic cases have occurred from laboratory exposures.
Why has glanders become a current issue?
Burkholderia mallei is a potential agent for biological warfare and of biological terrorism. It was used by Germany against Allied forces during World War I, and again in World War II by Japanese forces. It has also been suggested that B mallei was used on a limited basis against the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980’s.
Where is glanders usually found?
Geographically, the disease has been eradicated from most countries; however it is still endemic in parts of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Central and South America.
Is there a way to prevent infection?
There is no vaccine available for glanders. In countries where glanders is endemic in animals, prevention of the disease in humans involves identification and elimination of the infection in the animal population. Within the health care setting, transmission can be prevented by using standard contact precautions.
Is there a treatment for glanders?
Because human cases of glanders are rare, there is limited information about antibiotic treatment of the organism in humans. Sulfadiazine has been found to be an effective in experimental animals and in humans. Burkholderia mallei is usually sensitive to tetracyclines, ciprofloxacin, streptomycin, novobiocin, gentamicin, imipenem, ceftrazidime, and the sulfonamides. Resistance to chloramphenicol has been reported.
What are the symptoms of glanders?
The symptoms of glanders depend upon the route of infection with the organism. The types of infection include localized, pus-forming cutaneous infections, pulmonary infections, bloodstream infections, and chronic suppurative infections. Generalized symptoms of glanders include fever with chills and sweating, muscle aches, chest pain, muscle tightness, and headache; mucopurulent nasal discharge and light sensitivity with excessive tearing of the eyes may be seen as well.
If there is a cut or scratch in the skin, a localized infection with ulceration may develop within 1 to 5 days at the site where the bacteria entered the body. Swollen lymph nodes may also be apparent. Infections involving the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, and respiratory tract will cause increased mucus production from the affected sites. Dissemination to other locations in the body may occur 1-4 weeks after infection.
The disease often manifests itself as pulmonary infection. In pulmonary infections, pneumonia, pulmonary abscesses, and pleural effusion can occur. Chest X-rays will show localized infection in the lobes of the lungs.
Glanders bloodstream infections are usually fatal within 7 to 10 days.
The chronic form of glanders involves multiple abscesses within the muscles and skin of the arms and legs or in the lungs, spleen, and/or liver.